Hiker Completes 300 km Postal Route for Charity

Hiker Einar Skúlason

Hiker Einar Skúlason finished an 11 day trek along an old northeastern postal route this Friday, raising over ISK 1 Million [$7300, €6600] for The Akureyri Cancer Society. He acted as a real-life postal worker during the trek, delivering Christmas cards along the way, Mbl.is reports.

Einar has previously hiked a number of other old postal routes, which were used before modern roads allowed for safer and quicker travel between rural communities. His latest journey started in the eastern town of Seyðisfjörður on the East Coast on December 4. “I stopped at a few places along the way, as the postal workers used to do back in the day,” Einar told Mbl.is as he concluded the walk in Akureyri. “I visited places like Möðrudalur and Grímsstaður á Fjöllum and got lodging and food like they did in the old days.”

Most of the nights Einar stayed in a tent which he carried on his back along with other supplies, a 30 kg extra weight in total. “I didn’t know if I’d make it in time for Christmas, if there would be any low points, how the weather would be and whether something would happen to me on the way,” he added. “There is always a risk involved carrying such a heavy backpack.”

Freezing cold during the hike

The route is nearly 300 km long, but Einar was able to stop at a number of natural baths along the way to ease his sore muscles and warm himself up. “It was frightfully cold on the way, usually a double digit number below zero, sometimes 15 to 20 degrees freezing,” Einar said. “But the day before yesterday it was 17 below by Mývatn, but then suddenly zero degrees at midnight.”

Einar raised money for The Akureyri Cancer Society from online pledges and fees for the Christmas greetings he delivered on the way. “The Society does great work. So I called them up and asked if I should raise money for them,” he said, adding that promoting the Society’s work is an added benefit, which will hopefully encourage people in need to reach out to them.

Iceland Donates Field Hospital to Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

Representatives in Alþingi have proposed a resolution to authorise the Foreign Minister to secure the purchase of a mobile emergency hospital for Ukraine.

The mobile emergency hospital would be used by injured Ukrainian soldiers and civilians affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Read more: Zelenskyy to Meet with Nordic Leaders in Helsinki

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, Iceland has also accepted some 3,000 Ukrainian refugees. Iceland’s support from 2022 to 2023 for Ukraine amounts to approximately 4.5 billion ISK [$32 million, €30 million] in humanitarian and financial aid.

The hospital in question is designed to care for both wounded soldiers and civilians, and can be operated independently without connection to existing infrastructure.

Ukrainian authorities have informed Icelandic authorities of the urgent need for mobile field hospitals for wounded soldiers and have requested Iceland’s assistance in this matter. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly expressed gratitude for Iceland’s overwhelming support for Ukraine in his meetings with the Icelandic Prime Minister.

Three hospitals of this type have already been sent to Ukraine, and three more are requested. The production time for such a hospital is about six months, and the estimated cost is approximately 1.2 billion ISK [$8.6 million, €7.9 million].

Man of the Year

Haraldur Þorleifsson

This is Haraldur Þorleifsson. In 2021 he sold his company, Ueno, to Twitter. During the sale process, he was advised how to legally avoid paying taxes on the profit. Instead, he demanded that the purchase price be paid as salary to maximise the tax he would have to pay.In 2021, he paid the second highest tax in Iceland.

When Ramp Up Iceland constructed its 300th ramp this November, a curious scene ensued. As Haraldur Þorleifsson, the project’s founder, took centre stage in the Mjódd bus station to make a celebratory speech, President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson interrupted him from the crowd, in what the media would later playfully describe as “heckling.” The President then proceeded to spray-paint over Halli’s initial goal of 1,000 with a new one of 1,500. Later, Halli would tweet, “Since he’s the president, I guess we have to do it.” The playful exchange captured what many find so endearing about Halli, as he’s often known: a benevolent tech titan who’s still able to take a joke. Much of the exchange also took place on Twitter, of which Halli is both an avid user and a current employee.

People can be successful without working hard or being smart. But nobody can be successful without luck. And a lot of it.

LIFE BY DESIGN

As a designer, Halli thinks a lot about the decisions that shape the world we inhabit. We take so many aspects of life for granted, be it a building, a coffee cup, or a public transportation system. We see them as a given, as part of our environment, forgetting the choices and circumstances that made them. Halli, however, was not the kind of child to settle for “that’s just how it is” as an answer.

His tech career has allowed him to work wherever he wants, and he has travelled extensively, living and working in places like Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Vancouver, Barcelona, and Rio de Janeiro. Both his travels and design background have made him think very deeply about why cities are laid out in certain ways and why certain buildings lack accessibility, while others don’t. “You can go from city to city,” he says, “and often even just within the same country, there’s a very stark difference. So it’s very clear that these are all man-made decisions.”

 

HUMBLE BEGININGS

Halli’s journey to becoming one of Iceland’s so-called “tax kings” was not an obvious one. Born with muscular dystrophy which left him fully dependent on his wheelchair by his mid-20s, his family was working-class. Looking back, Halli is fully aware that things could have been different. “Education is definitely the big one,” Halli says, reflecting on the advantages of growing up in Iceland. “In places like the United States, there’s a big difference in education depending on the money you have. And social differentiation begins very early in education, starting in kindergarten. And of course, it’s not just the quality of education, but the network you develop and your social ca  pital as well.” 

Having studied philosophy and business at university, Halli went on to drop out of a master’s degree in economics. Like so many foundational figures of the tech industry, Halli found it hard to adapt to the daily routines of formal education and work life. But unlike many of his tech peers, Halli hasn’t mythologised his origin story. “It wasn’t really a principled stance at the time,” Halli admits. Thinking back to some of his first jobs, he’s quite candid about the reason he forged a different path: “I just felt I couldn’t show up in a tie every day.”

As Halli was finding his way in the world, he also received some aid in the form of disability payments. “I couldn’t have lived off of them for a long time,” Halli says, “but they did get me through some hard times.” Some of these hard times included being fired from one of his first serious jobs in New York and a difficult period with alcohol and drug use. He also recalls ruefully how he happened to start his first day of work at CCP, a large Icelandic game development studio, on the same day as the banking collapse in Iceland. But in 2011, Halli sobered up and got married.  In 2014, founded Ueno.

Ueno grew out of Halli’s work as a freelancer. Halli scored a lucky break in taking on a project for Google, and as his projects grew bigger and bigger, he realised that he needed to organise a team. Over the years, Ueno grew into a full-service design agency, developing apps, making websites, creating brands, and leading the way in online marketing for some of the biggest names in tech, including Uber, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Visa, Verizon, and others. Some of their best-known projects include the Google Santa Tracker, the Reuters news app, and Dropbox’s online guide.

When Halli sold Ueno to Twitter in 2021, the proceeds from the sale were enough to send him to number 2 on the list of Iceland’s top taxpayers, the exclusive list of “tax kings.” Normally, selling off a highly profitable tech company involves stock options and other financial instruments designed at keeping the profit in lower tax brackets than wages. Instead of experimenting with creative bookkeeping, Halli went in the opposite direction, opting to receive the majority of his profit in the form of wages. The highest wage bracket in Iceland is taxed at a marginal rate of 46%, with lower brackets at 38% and 31%. Had Halli chosen stocks or other financial instruments instead, he would have been taxed at a much lower rate of 22%. Not all details from the sale are public, but according to his tax return, Halli reported a monthly salary of ISK 102 million [$718,000; €672,000] throughout 2021, some 46% of which would have been paid in tax.

In talking with Halli, there is no sense of martyrdom or regret. Nor does he seem to have been simply “following the rules,” impartially acting like everyone ought to. He seems genuinely happy to have the ability to give back. 

The largest part of his working life has been with American tech companies. Reflecting on the differences between his home and the United States reveals a deep appreciation for Iceland’s social systems: “In terms of living, Iceland is simply a better place. In terms of work, if you just isolate that part, the US probably has a leg up, but not for the right reasons. It’s a fear-based society. People are afraid to make mistakes, and when they do, there are no safety nets. In a lot of ways, I relate to that American work ethic, but I don’t think we should build a society around it. Everyone is very motivated, but I don’t think they’re happier. In Iceland, because of the social system, there’s more room for life.”

Despite his passion for the principles of social democracy, Halli certainly does not believe he has all the answers for the world’s social woes. Exhibiting his trademark humility, Halli says simply, “I’m not smart enough to have solutions, but I think in general it would be good to level things. We should start with the assumption that it would be good to be more equal, that people who have more should pay more.” 

This, it seems, is Halli’s goal: to make Iceland an even better place for living. 

‘Talent’ is my least favourite word. It implies that some people are born with a gift. And that others are not. It’s a limiting word. Gatekeeping through genetics. Passion is what actually matters.

RAMP UP

Once Halli was back in Iceland with his family after years of travel, its lack of accessibility seemed both obvious and insupportable. Only now, he could do something about it. Ramp Up Reykjavík started humbly, with the goal to build 100 ramps, mostly in downtown Reykjavík. “It seemed like every year, there was some story about how a person in a wheelchair couldn’t go somewhere on Laugavegur,” he recalls. “The reporter was always shocked, but nothing ever changed, and I remember stories like these going back for decades.” 

Now, Ramp Up has expanded its scope from Reykjavík to all of Iceland, with the goal of 1,600 total ramps across the country by 2026. The difference is especially noticeable on Laugavegur, Reykjavík’s main shopping street. Just a year ago, the entrances to many stores, restaurants, hair salons, clinics, and more were blocked by staircases. Now, gently sloping stone ramps, unassuming in their design, can be found throughout the land, allowing people in wheelchairs to access services previously out of reach. Every ramp is a little different, needing to be fitted to the building and surrounding in question. Ramp Up’s success, according to Halli, is largely thanks to the very focused nature of its goal. “In the beginning,” Halli remembers, “we weren’t really sure how it all worked. But now we can do it at scale. It’s complicated and expensive to do as a one-off, but we’ve learned from doing this over and over again.”

“We have a very deep knowledge of this subject now, but we have no idea how to do anything else,” he jokes. The goal of Ramp Up, in short, is to remove any excuse for lack of basic accessibility, making it as easy as possible for the store owner. With a total budget of ISK 400 million [$2.8 million; €2.6 million], half of which is supplied by government funding, Ramp Up handles everything from applying for permits, submitting plans to the city, sending out work crews, working with local municipalities, and everything else. And the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, with many confessing that they’d wanted to build ramps to their stores for years, but had no idea how to go about it.

However, Halli tells me, as Ramp Up has made progress, they’ve quickly realised that ramps are far from the whole story: “In the beginning, we talked with a lot of people in the disability community. They rightfully pointed out that it’s not just ramps. How wide are the hallways in a building? Are the restrooms accessible? Are there accommodations for blind and hearing-impaired people? There are so many things that need to be fixed,” Halli says. “If anyone wants to tell me how we could be doing better, I’m always listening.”

A tourist asked me recently why there were so many people in wheelchairs in Reykjavik. I told him his country had them too, but it wasn’t as accessible so they stay at home. Same applies to all minorities. If you don’t see them it’s because they are hiding.

ANNA JÓNA

One of the defining experiences of Haraldur’s life was the loss of his mother to a car crash at age 11. He was on vacation at Disney World when his father received the news, but it was only once they arrived back in Iceland that he was told. Her early loss was, of course, a tragedy. But before he lost her, she left a lasting mark on her son that would shape how he viewed the world for the rest of his life. In Halli’s telling, his mother Anna Jóna was like many mothers: “The best in the world.”  

His mother imprinted a deep love of the arts in Halli. According to him, she was loving and creative, having worked in set design for films. He remembers how they watched many movies together and what an amazing storyteller she was. It speaks volumes that many of his passion projects now aim at promoting the arts. Upcoming projects include an artists’ residence on the Kjalarnes peninsula and his own musical pursuits, including a guest appearance at this past year’s Airwaves festival and an upcoming album called The Radio Won’t Let Me Sleep, to be released in the spring. For an awkward and depressed kid, the recent time in the spotlight isn’t entirely natural. “I’ve had to learn to be open to failure in a whole new area,” he explains. “It’s a small country, so everyone’s kind of famous, but I’ve gotten a fair bit of attention. It’s been kind of scary. What if the music is terrible? It would be a very public failure.” 

This February, Halli will be opening a new café in downtown Reykjavík. Dedicated to his mother, it bears her name: Anna Jóna. With a small theatre equipped with 40 seats, it also aims to become a venue of sorts for small performances and screenings. “It’s an homage to my mother,” Halli tells me. “But something I thought about a lot before opening this café was how I only grew up with her until I was 11. When I think about it now as an adult, it’s such a small slice of her life. I thought about going around to everyone who knew her and asking about her, about their memories of her. But, ultimately, I decided not to, because there’s no way for me to capture her in her entirety. This is an homage to her, but it’s also an homage of my memory of her, of a son for his mother.”

An especially strong memory of his mother stays with Halli to this day, some 40 years later. “Something I keep coming back to is a conversation with my mom I remember very well,” Halli tells me. “We were walking around the city, I think, and she was telling me how everything I saw, everything around me, was man-made. I got such a clear impression from my mother that I could have an impact on the world, that it wasn’t just for me to look at. It was something that I should, that we all should, feel some responsibility for changing.”

 

LIFTING THE VEIL

A popular post featuring Halli made the rounds on social media recently, titled simply “If you’re rich, be more like this guy.” In the comments, a general consensus emerged that cast Halli as the “good guy millionaire.”

Inevitably, the idealisation of Halli is also tied up in romantic ideas of what people want Iceland to mean to them. These ideas portray it as a perfect society, the first nation in the world with an openly LGBT head of state, and the nation that jailed their criminal bankers, if only for a little while.

But to be faithful to Halli’s own social democratic convictions, it is only fair to see him too as someone human, all too human. There is, for instance, the uncomfortable truth that Ueno made much of its fortune working for American tech companies, many of which are working against precisely the systems which allowed Halli to flourish. Companies like Uber, Tesla, and Amazon have all worked to drive down wages, while fiercely resisting the recent wave of unionisation in the United States. Ueno was, of course, not directly involved in these practices. But nevertheless, wherever Silicon Valley seems to promise novelty and freedom, one cannot help but notice that potentially democracy-destabilising concentrations of wealth seem to follow. Halli was lucky enough to benefit from strong social systems during the hard times of his life, but for many, such opportunities are increasingly being taken away by these tech firms.

Though Halli’s fortune is admittedly more humble, it is difficult not to draw comparisons with other members of the tech elite. In some sense, Halli serves as the inverse image of his current employer, Elon Musk. The child of South African diamond miners, Mr. Musk has likewise benefited from the advantages of his upbringing, though where Musk was born into great generational wealth, Halli was simply born into a strong social democracy. But what truly differentiates Halli from his fellow members of the tech elite is the application of the designer’s eye to his own life as well. Halli doesn’t take the world for granted, nor his position in it. Where others justify their anointed positions through appeals to genius, work ethic, and rugged individualism, Halli openly talks about the social support he’s received, often letting online followers in behind the scenes of his life. 

And it’s this kind of online engagement that keeps Halli optimistic about the future of our increasingly digital lives. “I still remember the first chat on a computer I ever had with my cousin on an old 286,” Halli muses, referencing a popular Intel PC model. “Back then, I thought it was going to revolutionise the world in almost exclusively good ways. I am in general more optimistic than pessimistic, but the pessimistic part has definitely grown.” Something the tech world, and especially Twitter, has still not totally come to terms with was the election of Donald Trump and the accompanying culture wars centred around freedom of speech, “cancel culture,” and online hate speech. Today, Halli is working closely with his team at Twitter to address some of these problems, but given the sensitive nature of the work, much of it is under wraps. As hard a project as it may seem, Halli hopes to make Twitter resemble more the digital hopes of his youth. “Twitter has allowed me access to different groups of people,” he explains. “I think it’s broadened my view of the world. I often learn things on Twitter that are uncomfortable but necessary. I come from a very specific background, a community where everyone is kind of the same. It’s important to have access to these different experiences.” 

haraldur þorleifsson

MAN OF THE YEAR

At the end of 2022, Halli swept various Icelandic media outlets’ awards for Person of the Year, being voted by the audiences of Iceland’s widest-read publications as the man of the moment.

And for good reason: between Ramp Up, his contributions to legal funds for victims of sexual abuse, and generous donations to families in need over the holidays, it is hard to think of one Icelander trying to do more good. 

And yet, despite all of the good he’s done, it’s worth pausing for a moment to consider a peculiar irony. The Man of the Year, after all, was chosen for something every one of us does every year: paying our taxes.

Open Water Swimmer Takes to the Sea for a Good Cause

Open water swimmer Sigurgeir Svanbergsson took to the sea on Friday for a good cause. RÚV reports that the self-trained sea swimming enthusiast set out on his odyssey from the Westman Islands to Landeyjasandur on the mainland at 3:45 pm and was expected to complete the 12-km [7.5 mi] journey in five to six hours, arriving between 9:00 and 10:00 pm.

Sigurgeir is swimming on behalf of Save the Children Iceland. (Donate here.) All the money he collects for his monumental undertaking will be donated. He considers this a truly pressing issue, noting that one in every six children in the world—or 450 million total—live in conflict zones, which is a 5% increase from last year.

Synt frá Vestmannaeyjum, FB

‘I always have to go a little further and try something a little harder’

This isn’t Sigurgeir’s first open water plunge—nor his first for charity—although he is still relatively new to the pursuit. Last year, with very little prior swimming experience, he swam across Kollafjörður from Kjalarnes to Reykjavík. (In that instance, he swam for Unique Children in Iceland, a support group for children with rare diseases.)

Sea swimming was a pursuit he took up during the COVID lockdown years, unable to practice or compete in his first sport, Lethwei, a particularly strenuous, full-contact form of boxing practiced in Myanmar. “I was supposed to be competing in the world championship, but COVID spoiled that. […] So I had to find something else to do.” Sigurgeir had no particular background in swimming and had only really practiced when he was in school. But that was part of the appeal for him. “I’m really interested in putting myself in situations that are really challenging. It’s so interesting to see where your head goes when you find yourself in a situation that’s actually kind of impossible.”

And he learned a lot during the course of that first journey, even if it wasn’t all smooth swimming. “It went well, I finished it, but with all kinds of complications,” he recalled in a recent radio interview. For one thing, the engine went out on his escort boat and Sigurgeir ended up having to swim around it for an hour and a half while he waited for a new one. During that break, the currents in the fjord changed direction and so Sigurgeir had to complete his journey swimming against a strong current. The swim took nine hours.

“It was hard and I almost failed,” he said. “But then I always have to go a little further and try something a little harder.”

Synt frá Vestmannaeyjum, FB

 Learning from experience

Sigurgeir has certainly found something “a little harder” with his current swim. The distance of the Kollafjörður swim was just the same, 12 km, but the swim from the Westman Islands will be much more difficult. “So, this is the open sea, of course,” Sigurgeir noted. “I really have no idea what I’m getting into, in a way.”

He’s learned from previous experience, however, and in addition to training extensively in advance of Friday’s swim—both physical preparation in the form of cold training and mental preparation for better stress management—Sigurgeir has made some adjustments. He said he’d be more mindful of the change currents and planned to bring a kayak with him where he could eat mid-swim. He was also going to practice better feeding methods. Sigurgeir said he didn’t do this very well last year and as a result, ended up vomiting for the last three hours of his swim. “There was actually a trail of vomit behind me the whole way.”

Outlook good

At time of writing, Sigurgeir hadn’t completed his swim from the Westmans to Iceland’s mainland, but the conditions were good when he set out. The currents were favourable, and the weather on Heimey, the only inhabited island in the Westmans from where he set out, was good: 10°C [50°F], with just a slight breeze, a bit of fog, and scattered showers.

Sigurgeir was in high spirits before setting out on Friday afternoon, saying: “In the first place, I just think it’s exciting. Just such an exciting idea to give this a try. And then there’s a good cause, too.”

Check Sigurgeir’s Facebook page, Synt frá Vestmannaeyjum (‘Swam from the Westman Islands’), to see how his saga ended on Friday night.

Björk’s Harpa Concert Series Supports Women’s Shelter

Björk Guðmundsdóttir musician

Guests filled Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavík last night for the first evening of musician Björk Guðmundsdóttir’s four-concert series in support of Kvennaathvarfið women’s shelter. The concerts were postponed seven times due to COVID restrictions and are Björk’s first performances in Iceland in three years.

Twenty per cent of the profits from the concert series will go to Kvennaathvarfið women’s shelter in Reykjavík, specifically to support children – the shelter houses on average 11 kids at any given time, RÚV reports. The concerts are acoustic (performed without electronics and beats) and feature the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Hamrahlíð Choir, and other local musicians.

Though tickets to the concerts are sold out, those interested can follow along virtually. In Iceland, the concerts are broadcast live on RÚV’s Channel 2 as well as on via radio on Rás 1. Those located abroad can also purchase access to the live stream. The remaining concerts will be held on October 24 and 31 and November 15.

Seyðisfjörður Mudslides: Artists Raise Funds Through Online Art Festival

Saman fyrir Seyðisfjörð

Ásgeir, Hatari, JFDR, Vök, and Bríet are among the musicians collaborating in a schedule of online charity performances, taking place January 25-31. The program is organised by the Red Cross of Iceland and a community-driven project Saman Fyrir Seyðisfjörð, to support the rebuilding efforts of the Seyðisfjörður community following the devastating mudslides that destroyed several buildings in town just before Christmas 2020.

The event is organised by the Red Cross in Iceland, the artists themselves, and Saman fyrir Seyðisfjörð, a collaborative project that works to support the rebuilding of the Seyðisfjörður community by hosting an online schedule of performances and artwork donated by the creative community of Iceland. Saman fyrir Seyðisfjörð translates as Together for Seyðisfjörður and on their social media, they have been sharing some behind-the-scenes looks into the lives of the community in Seyðisfjörður. For years, the Seyðisfjörður community has hosted artistic education programs, artist residencies and the Lunga Art festival, embracing and nurturing a creative connection to a global community of artists, that now wants to give back to the town’s residents.

Saman fyrir Seyðisfjörð will be streaming on samanfyrirseydisfjord.info, January 25-31. The program includes performances from, Ásgeir, Bríet, Sillus X Hermigervill, Bjartar Sveiflur, Sykur, Hjaltalin, Halldór Eldjárn, Hatari, Vök, JFDR, Cyber, Benni Hemm Hemm & Prins Póló & Ívar Pétur, Abby Portner, Sunna Margrét, Sexy Lazer, Samantha Shay & Andrew Thomas Huang, Hrafn Bogdan, Sodill, Crystal Lubrikunt, Forest Law, Augnablik, Rex Pistols, Pamela Angela, MSEA, Una Björg Magnúsdóttir, Nana Anine, Boris Vitazek, Supersport! and many more to be announced later.

All donations raised by Saman fyrir Seyðisfjörð will go towards rebuilding and supporting the community of Seyðisfjörður. Saman fyrir Seyðisfjörð funds will be distributed by the Red Cross in collaboration with the community in Seyðisfjörður. Text ‘HJALP’ to 1900 (from an Icelandic phone) to donate 2,900 ISK or go to gefa.raudikrossinn.is/9544 for Icelandic and international donations.

 

Offer Free Dry Cleaning for Job Seekers

A dry cleaner in Akureyri, North Iceland offers free service to those with an upcoming job interview, RÚVreports. Preben Pétursson, the company’s CEO, says the idea came up in the aftermath of the banking collapse in 2008.

Preben’s company also struggled to stay afloat after the crash, which left some 13-15,000 Icelanders unemployed after the collapse. “So we put our heads together to see what we could do without sinking the company,” he says.

The company has now offered free dry cleaning for job seekers for nearly 10 years. Preben says it isn’t necessary to provide proof you are looking for work to get a suit cleaned. “I don’t think people come here pretending to be unemployed for fun,” he says.

Less than ten customers a year have taken advantage of the offer since it began. Preben says it’s a small gesture from the company in the grand scheme of things. “We believe looking good matters and clothes make the man.”

Are the bales of hay in the Icelandic countryside colour coded?

Q: I wanted to ask about the bales of hay in the Icelandic countryside. We noticed that the bale wraps came in a few different colours. Are they colour coded or is this just the colours they come in?   Thanks,   Kim and Gord Tilly, Tyrone, Ontario, Canada

———————–

A: According to an article on the qualities of hay bale wrapping on landbunadur.is, the website of the Icelandic Agricultural Information Service, plastic wrapping in three different colors has usually been used in Iceland: white, black and light green. Producers say that exactly the same materials are used in making these different colors.

Which color is best suited has been up for discussion and experimentation by farmers. The advantage of the white wrapping is that it reflects sunlight more efficiently than the other colors and therefore heat fluctuations have less of an impact on the hay.

In the case of darker colors, sunlight is said to cause the different layers of wrapping to melt together, creating a solid cover which decreases oxygen penetration of the hay bales.

Which color is used is up to each farmer.

The public has sometimes described bales of hay as being visual pollution—I remember a discussion in Norway to that regard—reasoning that the white wrappings, which are most commonly used, stand out in the landscape too much.

The black and especially light green wrappings don’t pose as much of a contrast to green pastures but then again, in the snow-covered winter landscape the white wrappings are hardly visible at all while the other colors stand out.

The campaign ‘Bleikar og bláar heyrúllur’ has sold blue and pink hay bale wrapping in the last couple of years to raise money for charity. Blue hay bale wrapping sales go towards awareness for bladder cancer in males while proceeds from the pink ones raise awareness for female breast cancer.